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Full text of "American participation in theater"

Imerican Participation 
Theater 



Planning & Research Corp. 



earch Division Report #35 




ATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 



American Participation 
in Theater 



American Participation 
in Theater 



AMS Planning & Research Corp, 



Research Division Report #35 



National Endowment for the Arts 

Seven Locks Press 

Santa Ana, California 



American Participation in Theater is Report #35 in a series on matters of interest to 
the arts community commissioned by the Research Division of the National En- 
dowment for the Arts. 

Cover: Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Gregory Leiber. 



First printed 1996 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

American participation in theater / AMS Planning & Research Corp. 

p. cm. — (Research Division report / National Endowment for the 
Arts: 35) 
ISBN 0-929765-46-X (paperback) 
1. Theater audiences — United States. 2. Theater audiences — United 
States — Statistics. 3. Theater — United States — Statistics. I. AMS Planning & 
Research Corp. II. Series: Research Division report (National Endowment for 
the Arts., Research Division) ; 35. 
PN2270.A89A45 1996 
306.4 , 84— dc20 

96-7842 
CIP 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

Seven Locks Press 
Santa Ana, California 
1-800-354-5348 



Table of Contents 



List of Tables 




vi 


List of Figures 


vi 


Executive Summary 


1 


Introduction 




7 




The Surveys of Public Participation in the Arts 


8 


PART 1: 


Theater Participation in the United States 


11 




Interest in Attending More Often 


12 




Crossover Participation 


12 




Participation via Mass Media 


13 




Theater Attendance and Other Leisure Activities 


15 


PART II: 


The Theater Audience 


17 




Education 


17 




Income 


18 




Age 


20 




Race/Ethnicity 


21 




Gender 


22 




Marital Status 


23 




Residency 


24 




Region 


24 




Presence of Children 


25 


PART III: 


Producing Activity, 1982-1992 


29 




Nontouring Productions 


30 




Touring Productions 


31 




Ticket Prices 


32 


PART IV: 


Artistic Focus 


33 




Culturally Specific Work 


33 




Evolution of Performance Art 


33 



PART V: Marketing Programs 



35 



vi I American Participation in Theater 

PART VI: Future Participation in Theater 37 

Appendix A: 1992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts 39 

Notes 46 

About the Author 47 

Other Reports on Arts Participation 48 

Tables 

Table 1. Theater Participation in the U.S., 1982-1992 1 1 

Table 2. Cross-Discipline Participation Rates 13 

Table 3. Participation Rates via Mass Media (%) 14 
Table 4. Participation in Other Leisure Activities, 1982-1992 

(Hours and %) 16 

Table 5. Theater Audience Composition by Age Cohort 21 

Table 6. Theater Participation Rates by Age Cohort 21 

Table 7. Audience Composition by Demographic Segment (%) 26 
Table 8. Theater Participation Rates by Demographic 

Characteristics (%) 27 

Table 9. Theater Participation Rates by Presence of Children 28 

Table 10. Supply vs. Attendance at 42 Theaters, 1982-1992 29 



Figures 

Figure 1 . Theater Participation Rates by Highest 

Level of Education Completed (%) 1 8 
Figure 2. 1992 Theater Audience, Percentage 

Composition by Income Level 1 9 

Figure 3. Theater Participation Rates by Race/Ethnicity 22 

Figure 4. Theater Participation Rates by Marital Status 23 



Executive Summary 



According to nationwide surveys of arts participation sponsored by the Na- 
tional Endowment for the Arts, American participation in theater or 
"non-musical stage plays" increased from 1 1.9 percent of all adults in 1982 to 
13.5 percent in 1992 — an increase of 13.4 percent and the largest increase 
among the six benchmark categories studied (jazz, classical music, opera, mu- 
sicals, plays, and performing arts). For purposes of this survey, a non-musical 
stage play is a theatrical production consisting of spoken dialogue. 

In similar studies conducted in 1982, 1985, and 1992 by the U.S. Cen- 
sus Bureau, randomly selected interview subjects (aged 18+) were asked a se- 
ries of questions relating to their participation in the arts through attendance 
at live performances, exposure via mass media, personal participation in the 
arts, interest in attending more often, childhood exposure to the arts, and re- 
lated topics. The numbers of completed interviews were 17,254, 13,675, and 
12,736, respectively. Results from these Surveys of Public Participation in the 
Arts (SPPAs) have been analyzed extensively in numerous research reports and 
monographs commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. This 
analysis focuses exclusively on participation in stage plays. The approach taken 
is first to examine the theater audience and its characteristics and then to ex- 
plore the dynamic forces shaping theater participation. Changes in producing 
and touring activity are discussed, as well as the evolving nature of the art 
form itself. 



Theater Participation 

Based on an adult population (18+) of 185.8 million, an estimated 25.1 
million U.S. adults attended live stage plays in 1992, compared to 20 million 
in 1982 when the adult population was 164 million. Accounting for sampling 
error at the 95 percent confidence level, the true size of the 1992 theater au- 
dience was between 24 and 26.2 million adults. 

Among those reporting theater attendance, an average frequency of 2.4 
times was reported (in the preceding 12-month period), yielding a total of 
60.2 gross attendances at live stage plays. About 27.4 percent of the theater 
audience attends 3 or more times per year, compared to 22.4 percent of the 
audience for musicals, and 15.2 percent of the opera audience. 

A third of all survey respondents expressed an interest in attending stage 



2 I American Participation in Theater 



plays more frequently than they do now, an increase of 9.4 percentage points 
since 1982 and the biggest increase for any of the benchmark activities. The 
potential audience for stage plays is composed of 1 percent current theater- 
goers who do not wish to increase their participation, 25 percent current the- 
atergoers who would like to attend more often, and 65 percent nonattenders 
with an expressed interest in going. A relatively large untapped audience for 
stage plays is suggested. Creating marketing and artistic "points of entry" for 
nonattenders is the implied challenge. 

Over half of all stage play attenders (53.2 percent) also reported attending 
musical theater In the preceding year, although only 41.1 percent of the mu- 
sical theater audience also reported attending stage plays — indicative of the 
relatively broader appeal of musicals. Stage play audiences are most likely to 
be drawn from opera audiences (48.1 percent crossover), while only 1 1.7 per- 
cent of theatergoers "feed" the opera audience. 

Like other types of arts attenders, theatergoers are more active in other 
leisure activities compared to the general population. In 1992, 53.8 percent of 
theatergoers also attended sports events, down from 68.3 percent in 1982. 
The average theatergoer watches 2.4 hours of TV every day, compared to 3.0 
hours for the average American. With the exception of exercise and charity 
work, participation by theatergoers in all other leisure activities declined be- 
tween 1982 and 1992. 



Audience Characteristics 

Education remains the single most important predictor of stage play par- 
ticipation. While 35 percent of those with graduate school education reported 
theater attendance, only 4 percent of those with high school education did so. 
Frequency of attendance also increases with education level. 

Income is also highly correlated with frequent attendance at stage plays. 
Households with incomes over $75,000 account for 17 percent of the theater 
audience compared to 26 percent of the opera audience, but only 9.5 percent 
of the general population. 

With respect to age, theater participation is somewhat more constant 
across age groups compared to other benchmark activities. The highest theater 
participation rate (17.2 percent) was observed among respondents aged 
45-54, compared to a rate of just 6.7 percent for those aged 75 and over. An 
analysis of theater participation by age cohort (i.e., following those born be- 
tween certain years) suggests that participation has increased evenly across all 
cohorts except for those born before 1918 (the pre-World War I cohort), 
whose participation declined sharply. 



Executive Summary I 3 



Increased theater participation among African Americans and Hispanics is 
one of the most significant findings of this analysis. Participation rates for 
African Americans more than doubled from 5.8 percent in 1982 to 12.0 per- 
cent in 1992. Similarly, Hispanic participation in stage plays also rose from 
5.5 percent to 8.6 percent. Audience diversification efforts in the nonprofit 
theater field appear to have made a significant impact since 1982. 

Adults with no children comprise 81.4 percent of the audience for stage 
plays. Adults with children under age 6 are substantially less likely to partici- 
pate in theater compared to adults with older children. Participation rises to 
near-average levels for adults with children aged 6—11, suggesting that the the- 
ater field is adept at recapturing parents into the audience. Increases in the lev- 
els of children's programming since 1982 help account for this phenomenon. 



Producing Activity 

Data provided by Theater Communications Group (TCG) suggest a small 
increase in the number of mainstage and other nontouring productions by 
nonprofit theaters. For a sample of 42 theaters, the number of performances 
rose slightly from 13,304 in 1982 to 13,659 in 1992, while attendance rose 
from 6.4 million to 6.8 million, or 6.7 percent. Thus it may be inferred that 
the 42 theaters became more proficient at filling their houses, although pop- 
ulation growth between 1982 and 1992 should have driven attendance up by 
13 percent, holding all else constant. 

The League of American Theaters and Producers (LATP) tracks commer- 
cial producing and touring activity. Commercial touring of stage plays de- 
creased from 23 productions in 1982 (an average of 10.6 weeks each), to 10 
productions in 1992 (an average of 21.4 weeks each). The shift to longer tours 
of fewer commercial productions may have resulted from several factors, in- 
cluding a decline in the number of new plays and play revivals on Broadway, 
the increasing costs of touring, and the opening of new commercial venues in 
cities like Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Cleveland, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. 

Among nonprofit theaters, a renewed focus on ethnically and culturally 
specific works strongly corroborates the audience diversification observed 
since 1982, particularly among the African American and Hispanic popula- 
tions. Increased responsiveness to diverse constituencies became a major 
thrust of the funding community during this period. The growing popularity 
of performance art and solo performance (i.e., storytelling and monologue) 
undoubtedly had a positive impact on theater participation, particularly 
among young audiences. 

The observed increase in theater participation between 1982 and 1992 is 



4 I American Participation in Theater 



a gross measure — a broad representation of many underlying factors, some 
consistent with increasing attendance, some contradictory to it. Nevertheless, 
an attempt to reconcile demand for stage play programming (as measured by 
participation rates and frequency) with the supply of theater programming is 
a valuable, if inconclusive pursuit. 



Local Context to Theater Participation 

Another study conducted by the NEA in 1992 revealed some of the com- 
plex patterns of arts participation at the local level, adding rich context to data 
from the national surveys. 1 In each of twelve areas studied (ranging from San 
Jose to Chicago), arts participation rates were examined in light of the local 
supply of arts programs and facilities. Theater participation was highest in 
Seattle/King County (WA) where a thriving theater community was observed, 
including playwrights, actors, and a plethora of small, experimental ensembles 
known collectively as "Seattle's fringe theaters." The study concluded that the 
relationship between the supply of and demand for arts programming is any- 
thing but predictable. Dynamic forces shape participation patterns in each 
community, including characteristics of the resident and nonresident markets, 
the supply of producing and presenting activity, the availability of suitable 
performance facilities, as well as local traditions and history. Further research 
at the local level will add valuable context to theater participation in the 
United States and perhaps stimulate the transfer of audience development 
strategies across communities. 



The Future Audience 

Will public participation in non-musical stage plays continue to grow? 
Ten years from now the field will have endured another decade of change. 
New theaters will open and others will fold; playwrights, directors, and actors 
will speak out in new ways; the funding climate will inevitably change; and 
new communications technology will create possibilities for both theaters and 
audiences. 

How will the theater make itself relevant to an increasingly diverse public? 
Much depends on the resources made available to theaters, playwrights, and 
performers to develop new work and attract new audiences. Most likely, the 
rising costs of producing and touring professional theater — coupled with 
changes in the funding mix for nonprofit theaters — will create even more 
pressure on earned income. However, it is the developmental component of 



Executive Summary 



theater, free from commercial expectations, that ultimately creates renewal. 
Audiences will continue to change and grow as new works (and old works in- 
fused with new relevancy) bring the lives of more Americans closer to the the- 
ater. Responsibility for creating new work rests not only with the nonprofit 
theater but also with commercial producers, the funding community, and ul- 
timately the audience itself. 



Introduction 



For nearly 20 years the arts participation patterns of Americans have been 
studied through a series of research efforts sponsored by the National En- 
dowment for the Arts (NEA), including three nationwide Surveys of Pub- 
lic Participation in the Arts (SPPAs) conducted in 1982, 1985, and most re- 
cently in 1992. Results from these and other research efforts have advanced 
our understanding of the complex patterns of arts participation in the United 
States. With data available from three surveys spanning a decade, broad trends 
in arts participation can be monitored, adding a new dimension to the col- 
lective knowledge of arts participation in the United States. 

This analysis focuses on participation in non-musical theater or stage 
plays, only one of the eight benchmark arts activities defined by the NEA. The 
goal of the analysis is to offer perspective on theater participation in the 
United States in terms of the demand for theater programming, the supply or 
availability of theater programming, and other forces impacting theater par- 
ticipation. 

In terms of demand, a variety of quantitative measures have been devel- 
oped through NEA-sponsored research, including attendance rates, frequency 
of attendance, and the demographic and other characteristics associated with 
attendance. On the supply side, measurement is substantially more difficult 
due to the diversity and constant state of flux of the theater field. Providers of 
theatrical programming include resident theaters, commercial producers, chil- 
dren's theater companies, presenters, broadcast media, and other types of or- 
ganizations. 

The rapid evolution of the "theater delivery system" in the United States 
is driven by a number of interrelated forces: 

■ a constantly changing arts public, both demographically and culturally 

■ artistic developments in the theater field 

■ management and organizational changes among producers and presenters 

■ a changing funding and political climate 

■ technological advances 

■ economic forces that impact both consumers and producers 

Thus the simple observation that theater attendance increased 1 3 percent 
between 1982 and 1992 belies a panoply of underlying forces, some correla- 
tive and some contradictory. Ultimately, the changing patterns of theater par- 



8 I American Participation in Theater 



ticipation are as rich, subtle, and complex as the art form itself. Theater (un- 
like the more wieldy artistic disciplines of opera, ballet, and even musical the- 
ater) easily speaks to contemporary audiences, not only through new plays but 
also through new interpretations of older works. The traditionally smaller 
scale of theater productions affords the art form an element of spontaneity (if 
not portability) and a facility for relevance that opera, ballet, and musical the- 
ater do not enjoy. If theater as an art form reflects our society and its search 
for identity and understanding, then the study of theater participation is a 
window looking into the cultural development of America. 



The Surveys of Public Participation in the Arts 

In response to a growing need to understand the changing arts participa- 
tion patterns of Americans, the National Endowment for the Arts commis- 
sioned a series of nationwide surveys called the Surveys of Public Participation 
in the Arts (SPPA). Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the first sur- 
vey in 1982 established benchmark data from which trend analysis is now pos- 
sible, with data from the second and third SPPAs in 1985 and 1992, respec- 
tively. 

In terms of survey design, the SPPAs addressed these primary topic areas: 

■ rate and frequency of attendance at live performances of jazz, opera, clas- 
sical music, musical theater, museums, ballet, other dance, and non-mu- 
sical stage plays (the eight benchmark arts activities), as well as several 
other types of arts programs 

■ arts participation through electronic media, including television, video, 
and radio 

■ interest in attending different types of arts activities more often 

■ participation in other leisure activities 

■ personal participation in the arts (e.g., painting, writing, playing an in- 
strument) 

■ music preferences 

■ childhood exposure to the arts 

Respondents to the SPPA were part of a larger, continuously rotating 
panel of randomly selected respondents who had agreed to participate in the 
research. Census Bureau population counts were used to draw the sample in 
such a way that all individuals living in households in the United States had a 
known and equal chance of selection. 

The sampling frame used in 1992 was essentially the same as those used 



Introduction 



in the 1982 and 1985 surveys. All individuals aged 18 and older in the se- 
lected households were eligible for inclusion in the survey. Less than 20 per- 
cent of all eligible individuals were unable to be interviewed. Approximately 
75 percent of the 1992 interviews were conducted by telephone, unlike the 
1982 and 1985 SPPA surveys for which only 25 percent were conducted by 
telephone. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with respondents who 
could not be reached by telephone. Each interview took about 8 minutes to 
complete for the first six months (January through June) and 16 minutes for 
the second six months, when a longer survey instrument was used. 

This report analyzes a subset of 1,716 respondents who reported attend- 
ing at least one non-musical stage play in the preceding 12 months. Roughly 
8 1 percent of those theatergoers were interviewed over the telephone, while 
the remaining 1 9 percent of the interviews were conducted in person at the 
respondents' homes. The majority (54.3 percent) of the interviews with stage 
play attenders were conducted in the first six months using the short form. 
The analysis of leisure activities, arts lessons/classes taken, and interest in at- 
tending more often is based on yet another subset of 785 respondents who 
completed interviews during the last six months of the 1992 SPPA. 

To facilitate analysis, additional research was conducted on trends in the 
theater field since 1982. Sources of data included the Theater Communica- 
tions Group, the League of American Theaters and Producers, and numerous 
other agencies and individuals with perspective on the field. 



Theater Participation in the 
United States 




An estimated 13.5 percent of the U.S. adult population attended live dra- 
, matic theater at least once in a 12-month period preceding the 1992 
study, compared to a rate of 11.9 percent from the 1982 study. Accounting 
for sampling error, the actual participation rate for live non-musical stage 
plays falls between 12.9 percent and 14.1 percent of the adult population at 
the 95 percent level of confidence. Data in Table 1 summarize stage play par- 
ticipation levels. 

Over the decade between 1982 and 1992, attendance at stage plays in- 
creased by 1.6 percentage points (or 13 percent), the largest increase of any of 
the benchmark arts activities, with the exception of art museum audiences. 2 
Considering a decrease in musical theater attendance of 1 .2 percentage points, 
the sum of attendance at both musical and non-musical theater changed little 
over the 1 0-year period. 



TABLE 1. Theater Partici 


pation in 


the U.S., 


1982-1992 




1982 


1985 


1992 


% Change 




(millions) 


(millions) 


(millions) 


1982-1992 


Overall U.S. adult population (18+; 


164.0 


170.6 


185.8 


+13.3 


Overall participation rate for 










live theater 


1 1 .9% 


11.6% 


13.5% 


+13.4 


Number of adults 


19.5 


19.7 


25.1 


+28.7 


Frequency of attendance 










(times per year) 


N/A 


N/A 


2.4 


N/A 


Overall number of attendances 


N/A 


N/A 


60.2 


N/A 



Based on an adult population of 185.8 million, between 24 million and 
26.2 million adults reported attending live stage plays in 1992. The average 
frequency of attendance reported in 1992 was 2.4 times per year, yielding a 
total of 60.2 million attendances. 



11 



12 I American Participation in Theater 



Interest in Attending More Often 

A third of all 1992 SPPA respondents indicated that they desire to attend 
stage plays more often than they do now, an increase of 9.4 percent since 1982 
and the largest increase for any of the benchmark arts activities. Only musical 
theater claims a larger percentage of interested respondents (36.2 percent), al- 
though the increase since 1982 has been only 3.8 percent. 

Among non-theatergoers, 28.6 percent said they would like to attend 
more often, compared to 68 percent of current theatergoers — the majority 
being infrequent or moderate attenders (1 to 3 times annually). Based on 
these data, the potential audience for non-musical theater may be projected as 
follows: 

% of % of 

All Adults Potential Audience Potential Audience Segment 

4.0 10.0 Current theatergoers who do not wish 

to increase their participation 

9.5 25.0 Current theatergoers who would like 

to attend more often 
24.7 65.0 Nonattenders with an interest in 

attending stage plays 

While some respondents may overstate their interest in attending more 
often, a relatively large untapped audience for stage plays is suggested, the ma- 
jority of whom are nonattenders and may be new to the theater. 

Reasons for not attending more often were studied in the 1982 and 1985 
SPPAs as well as in the 1992 Local Area Arts Participation Surveys (LAA.PS), 
a 12-city study focusing on local participation. Respondents in all three stud- 
ies reported that the primary barrier to increased participation was lack of 
time, followed by cost issues (categories were predefined) . Difficulty in ascer- 
taining the more complex internal and external forces inhibiting arts atten- 
dance prompted the NEA to drop this topic area from the 1992 survey in- 
strument. As an alternative to studying what keeps people out of the theater, 
some researchers are directing more attention to the circumstances surround- 
ing first-time attendance. 3 



Crossover Participation 

Over 85 percent of the stage play audience also reports participating in at 
least one other benchmark arts activity (see Table 2); only opera attenders (93 



Theater Participation in the United States I 13 



percent), ballet attenders (92 percent), and classical music attenders (89 per- 
cent) participate in other arts activities at a greater rate. More than half of all 
stage play attenders (53.2 percent) also reported attending musical theater, the 
second highest correlation among arts activities surveyed, following museum 
attendance. Conversely, only 41 percent of musical theater attenders also at- 
tended stage plays, reflecting a broader-based audience for musical theater. 
Opera attenders represent the largest source of crossover attenders for stage 
plays (48.1 percent), while just 1 1 percent of play attenders also attend opera. 



TABLE 2. Cross-Discipline Participation Rates 



% of Stage Play Attenders 
Who Also Attend 



% of 



Attenders Who 



Also Attend Stage Plays 



Museums 


63.4 


Musical Theater 


53.2 


Classical Music 


40.0 


Jazz 


31.3 


Other Dance 


19.4 


Ballet 


15.7 


Opera 


11.7 



SOURCE: 1 992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts 



32.0 
41.1 
43.2 
39.7 
36.5 
45.5 
48.1 



Analysis of crossover participation is useful in understanding the inter- 
relationships of different arts audiences. At a tactical level, such information 
may be used by arts managers in the development of marketing strategies, par- 
ticularly in the area of direct mail and telemarketing. For example, results sug- 
gest that mailing lists from opera and ballet companies should be the most 
productive for marketing stage plays. 



Participation via Mass Media 

Participation in stage plays through various forms of electronic media de- 
clined significantly between 1982 and 1992. In 1982 over a quarter of re- 
spondents (26 percent) reported viewing dramatic theater broadcast on tele- 
vision. This has declined steadily to its current level of 17 percent, reaching an 
audience of 33.4 million annual viewers (television and videocassette) . The 



14 I American Participation in Theater 



average number of annual viewings of dramatic theater performances through 
TV or VCR is 8 per viewer, increasing the total number of viewings nation- 
ally to 267.2 million. 

Demographically, electronic media audiences for stage plays differ signif- 
icantly from audiences who attend live performances. Notably, the education 
levels of media audiences are lower than the education levels of those who at- 
tend live theater. A quarter of live theater audiences (25.4 percent) attained a 
high school education or less, compared to over a third of video/radio theater 
audiences (36.7 percent). Income levels were lower for video/radio theater au- 
diences as well, but not as significantly as education. With respect to age, 
video audiences also tend to be older: whereas one-fourth (25.6 percent) of 
live theater audiences are 55 and older, slightly over one-third (33.7 percent) 
of video participants are age 55 and older. 

The video audience for non-musical theater is made up of both attenders 
and nonattenders of live performances. Among the respondents who reported 
attendance at a live performance, 42 percent also watched a stage play perfor- 
mance on TV or VCR. Interestingly, respondents who did not attend live the- 
ater in the last 12 months viewed theatrical performances on TV and VCR 
more frequently than those who did attend live theater — 8.8 times annually 
vs. 6.2 times, respectively. Only 3 percent of respondents who did not attend 
live dramatic theater in the last 12 months reported viewing a stage play via 
video. 



TABLE 3. Participation 


Rates via 


Mass Media 


(%) 


Difference 




1982 


1985 


1992 


1982-1992 


Participation Rate via Television 


25.9 


21.0 


14.8 


-11.1 


Participation Rate via Video 


N/A 


N/A 


1.3 


N/A 


Participation Rate via Radio 


3.8 


4.0 


2.8 


-1.0 



Dramatic radio broadcasts reach a very small audience, 3 percent in 1992 
compared to 4 percent in 1982. The audience reached through this form of 
media is 5.6 million adults, the smallest radio audience measured. 

Radio audiences for theater differ significantly from both live theater and 
video audiences with regard to gender and racial/ethnic composition. Over 52 
percent of the radio audience is male, compared to 43.6 percent of live audi- 
ences and 45.3 percent of video audiences. Racially, the radio audience for 



Theater Participation in the United States I 15 



theater is more diverse than the audience for live theater, with 14 percent 
fewer whites and more African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. 
As with video audiences, radio audiences for theater are less educated and have 
lower household incomes. 

The decrease in participation via electronic media appears to contradict 
the audience potential implied by a growth in U.S. household VCR owner- 
ship and cable subscription levels. Among households with televisions, over 
70 percent also own a VCR and nearly 60 percent subscribe to cable televi- 
sion — huge increases over 1980 levels. One explanation for the decrease in 
theater participation via electronic media may be a decline in theater pro- 
gramming on public television. Two series broadcast on PBS, Great Perfor- 
mances and American Playhouse, have decreased their programming of stage 
plays significantly in the last decade. In 1985 Great Performances offered 9 dif- 
ferent productions of dramatic theater; that number declined to 3 in 1992. As 
recently as 1990 American Playhouse offered a total of 18 programs, of which 
7 were non-musical theater. Out of a total of 1 1 programs, American Playhouse 
presented only 3 non-musical productions in 1992. The precipitous decline in 
the supply of theater programming on public television may be due to lower 
interest (or ratings) among viewers, lack of funding, or other reasons. The pro- 
liferation of cable programming may also account for declining participation 
in theater on television. 



Theater Attendance and Other Leisure Activities 

In order to gain perspective on arts participation in the larger context of 
leisure activity, the SPPA measures participation in a number of leisure activ- 
ities. Findings suggest that people who participate in non-musical theater (and 
other arts activities) are also more likely to participate in unrelated leisure ac- 
tivities at a greater rate than the general population. For example, 83 percent 
of stage play attenders also went to the movies in the last 12 months, com- 
pared to only 58.5 percent of the total population. This pattern remains con- 
sistent for other leisure activities. 

Theoretically, participation in other activities should reduce the amount 
of leisure time available for arts participation of any type. This notion is dis- 
proved, however, by the finding that respondents who engage in other leisure 
activities are in fact more likely than average to attend arts programs. This was 
referred to as "the more, the more" principle by John Robinson in his analy- 
sis of the 1982 and 1985 SPPA surveys. 4 

There has been a general decline in participation in leisure activities 
among dramatic theater attenders over the last ten years. The most significant 



16 I American Participation in Theater 



declines were experienced in home-based activities and amusement events, 
particularly home improvement activity (down 15 percent) and attending 
professional sporting events (down 14 percent). The only leisure activity for 
which participation increased was exercise: 78 percent of non-musical theater 
attenders report exercising in 1992, an increase of 5.2 percent from 1982. 



TABLE 4. Participation 


in Other Leisure Activities, 




1982-1992 (Hours and 


%) 










1982 


1992 


o/ 
/o 




1992 Total 


Stage 


Stage 


Change 




Sample 


Play 


Play 


1982- 






Attenders 


Attenders 


1992 


Amusement 










TV Hours 


3.0 


2.2 


2.4 


9.1 


Movies 


58.5% 


87.6% 


83.4% 


-4.8% 


Attend Sports 


36.4 


60.3 


53.8 


-21.2 


Visit Amusement Park 


49.8 


63.7 


60.2 


-5.5 


Exercise/Sports Activities 










Exercise 


59.3 


72.7 


77.9 


6.8 


Play Sports 


38.5 


60.2 , 


55.0 


-8.6 


Outdoor Activity 


33.8 


48.4 


48.0 


-0.8 


Charitable Activities 










Volunteer at Charity 


32.3 


52.2 


54.1 


3.6 


Home-Based Activities 










Home Improvements 


47.2 


70.4 


55.4 


-21.3 


Gardening 


54.2 


74.3 


62.7 


-15.6 


Arts & Crafts Activities 










Ceramics 


8.3 


17.6 


12.7 


-27.8 


Textile Work 


21.1 


39.6 


31.1 


-21.5 


Photography 


11.7 


18.9 


19.2 


1.6 


Painting 


9.7 


17.3 


15.4 


-11.0 


Creative Writing 


8.7 




18.7 




Compose Music 


2.2 




3.3 





The Theater Audience 




Survey results suggest that the demographic characteristics of theatergoers 
have not changed significantly since 1982, with some notable exceptions. 
Five key demographic variables are examined in this section: education, in- 
come, age, race/ethnicity, gender, and marital status. Two geographical char- 
acteristics — type of area (e.g., urban, rural) and region — are also explored, as 
well as the impact of family life cycle (i.e., presence of children) on theater 
participation. 



Education 

As illustrated in Figure 1, education remains the strongest demographic 
predictor of theater participation. 

A college graduate is twice as likely to attend a non-musical stage play as 
the average adult. The likelihood of theater participation increases by over 2.5 
times the average rate for people with graduate degrees. Interestingly, partici- 
pation rates have declined for respondents whose highest level of education is 
"some college" or more. Most notably, college graduates' participation rate de- 
creased over 10 percent from 25.9 percent in 1982 to 23.2 percent in 1992. 
Conversely, participation rates for those with high school diplomas increased 
by 10 percent between 1982 and 1992. 

Audience composition, on the other hand, reflects a significant increase 
for those with college or postgraduate degrees. Half of the stage play audience 
(49.9 percent) consists of people with at least a bachelor's degree, a more than 
7 percent increase. A quarter of the audience (25.4 percent) is made up of re- 
spondents whose highest education level is high school or less, a decrease of 
8.6 percent over 10 years. 

The decreased participation rate and the increased audience presence of 
those whose highest education level is a bachelor's degree or more are ex- 
plained in part by the general trend towards higher educational attainment in 
the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, between 1980 
and 1990 the percentage of people 25 years old and over who had completed 
four years of college or more increased from 17 percent in 1980 to 21.2 per- 
cent in 1992, a growth rate of nearly 25 percent. By comparison, the SPPA 
growth rate during that period for those graduates who attended at least one 



17 



18 I American Participation in Theater 



FIGURE 1. Theater Participation Rates by Highest Level of 
Education Completed (%) 



40.0 



35.0 



30.0 



25.0 



20.0 



15.0 



0.0 



DO 

c 

"a 

c 

& 

< 

- 5.0 

u 
u 

Q- 0.0 



1982 SPPA 



1985 SPPA ] 1992 SPPA 






Grade 
School 



Some . 
High 
School 



High 

School 

Graduate 



Some Bachelor's Graduate 

College Degree School 



stage play is 13.4 percent. 

Frequency of attendance increases significantly for those with bachelor's or 
postgraduate degrees. Those who have earned a bachelor's degree attend non- 
musical stage plays an average of 2.6 times annually, while those whose high- 
est level of education is "some college" fall below the average of 2.4 times 
(ranging from a low of 1.7 times for those with some high school to 2.3 times 
for those with some college). 



Income 



Income has the greatest single effect on frequency of attendance. Based on 
a multiple regression model, income proved to be the strongest predictor of 
frequent attendance (six or more times). When controlling for outliers, indi- 
viduals with household incomes of $75,000 or more are the most frequent 



The Theater Audience I 19 



theater attenders at 2.6 times annually. Frequency of attendance decreases pro- 
portionately with declining income levels. 

Attendance patterns based on income parallel those for education because 
of their linear relationship. When annual household income exceeds $30,000, 
income becomes a factor in participation rates. Households with an annual in- 
come between $50,000 and $75,000 are nearly 1.5 times more likely to attend 
dramatic theater than the average household. Those with annual incomes over 
$75,000 are 2.5 times more likely to attend theater than the average household. 

Households earning $50,000 or more comprise over 35 percent of theater 
audiences, but only 24 percent of the nation's households. This finding is fur- 



FIGURE 2. 1992 Theater Audience, Percentage Composition 
by Income Level 

17% 

18% 

28% D Under $25,000 

] $25,000-34,999 

$35,000-49,000 

$50,000-74,999 

17% 1 $75,000 and over 




ther extended for those households earning more than $75,000. They com- 
pose 17 percent of theater audiences, but only 9.5 percent of the nation's 
households. The median household income for theatergoers is between 
$35,000 and $40,000 annually (see Figure 2). As with education, the de- 
creased participation rate and increased presence in the audience of those re- 
spondents with income over $50,000 is explained in part by a significant in- 
crease in household income over the last 10 years. Nationally, households with 
incomes of $50,000 or more grew at a rate of 23 percent between 1980 and 
1990, compared to the stage play growth rate of 13.4 percent between the 
1982 and 1992 SPPA. 



20 I American Participation in Theater 



Age 

With the exception of respondents between ages 25 and 44, patticipation 
tates incteased by nearly 25 percent since 1982. Respondents between ages 65 
and 7 4 reported the highest increase in patticipation — 34 petcent. Mean- 
while, those in the baby boom age brackets reported an overall decrease in the- 
ater participation. Among respondents aged 35 to 44, theater participation 
decreased by 9.2 percent, while no change was observed among those aged 25 
to 34. 

Respondents between ages 35 and 64 attend live theater at a rate greater 
than the national mean (13.5 percent), with the highest participation coming 
from those aged 45 to 54 — 17.2 percent. The lowest patticipation rate for any 
age category is 6.7 percent for respondents aged ~5 and older. However, this 
was neatly a 30 percent increase over their 1982 participation rate of 5.2 per- 
cent. 

An alternative way to examine age data is through cohort analysis which 
compares the years respondents were born rather than the ages of the tespon- 
dents. For instance, responses of those between 25 and 34 in 1982 are compared 
to those between 35 and 44 in 1992. This analysis helps show the changes in 
participation and audience composition within a specific cohort group. 

The age composition of theatet audiences follows genetational lines, 
growing older over the last 10 years (see Table 5). In 1992 people between the 
ages of 35 and 44 — those classified as Early Baby Boomers — made up the 
largest portion of the theater audience (22 percent). This was also true of Early 
Baby Boomers in 1982, who composed 24 percent of the theater audience. 
When age cohorts were compared based on generational categories over the 10- 
year period, audience composition changed significantly. All age cohotts expe- 
rienced a significant decline in participation except Late Baby Boomets, which 
increased 5 percent. This is partly because those botn between 1965 and 196" 
were under age 18 in 1982 and therefore not eligible to answer the survey. 

Participation rates also cluster around generational lines. With the excep- 
tion of tespondents born prior to World War I, participation rates have in- 
creased between 1982 and 1992 for all age cohorts (see Table 6). The greatest 
increase occurred for those cohorts classified as Wotld War II (aged 45 to 54 
in 1992), moving from 15.3 percent to L7.2 percent. 

Overall, results suggest that a major challenge for the theatet field is to in- 
crease attendance among Late Baby Boomers and Post-Baby Boomers. People 
under the age of 35 comptise a greater proportion of the U.S. adult popula- 
tion (37.7 percent according to the 1990 census) than are present in the non- 
musical theatet audience (33.3 petcent). 



The Theater Audience I 21 



TABLE 5. Theater Audience 


Composition by Age Cohort 






1982 SPPA 


1992 SPPA 


% 


Change 




% 


% 


1982-1992 


Post-Baby Boom (born 1968-1974) 




12.7 






Late Baby Boom (born 1958-1967) 


15.6 


20.6 




5.0 


Early Baby Boom (born 1948-1957) 


24.1 


22.0 




-2.1 


World War II (born 1938-1947) 


21.5 


19.0 




-2.5 


Depression (born 1928-1937) 


15.2 


12.6 




-2.6 


Roaring '20's (born 1918-1927) 


12.9 


9.7 




-3.2 


Pre-World War I (191 7 and earlier) 


8.1 


3.3 




-4.8 



TABLE 6. Theater Participation 


Rates by Age 


Cohort 








1982 SPPA 


1992 SPPA 


% 


Change 




% 




% 


1982-1992 


Post-Baby Boom (born 1968-1974) 






13.2 






Late Baby Boom (born 1958-1967) 


10.7 




12.2 




1.5 


Early Baby Boom (born 1948-1957) 


12.2 




13.9 




1.7 


World War II (born 1938-1947) 


15.3 




17.2 




1.9 


Depression (born 1928-1937) 


13.4 




14.9 




1.5 


Roaring '20's (born 1918-1927) 


11.5 




13.3 




1.8 


Pre-World War I (191 7 and earlier) 


9.9 




6.7 




-2.2 



Race/Ethnicity 



Among the most significant findings of this analysis is the increased par- 
ticipation in non-musical theater between 1982 and 1992 among nonwhite 
racial/ethnic groups. Theater participation rates for African Americans have 
more than doubled in the last 10 years, moving from 5.8 percent in 1982 to 
12 percent in 1992. Similarly, Hispanic participation rates have also increased 
from 5.5 percent in 1982 to 8.6 percent in 1992. Asian Americans were the 
only racial group whose participation declined slightly (-0.7 percent) from 
1985 to 1992 (see Figure 3). 

White respondents attend non-musical stage plays most frequently, at 2.5 
times annually. African Americans and Hispanics go to the theater 2.2 times 
annually, while Asian Americans attend 1.5 times annually. 



22 I American Participation in Theater 



FIGURE 3. Theater Participation Rates by Race/Ethnicity 



DC 

C 

C 
— 

■4-1 

— 

u 

0> 



16.0 



14.0 



2.0 



0.0 



8.0 



6.0 



4.0 



2.0 



0.0 



1982 SPPA 



1985 SPPA ] 1992 SPPA 



White African American Asian American Hispanic 

1982 N/A 



Other 



Audience composition by race/ethnicity also changed significantly be- 
tween 1982 and 1992. White patrons comprise 82.4 percent of the 1992 the- 
ater audience, a decrease of 8.3 percent from 1982. The largest increase in au- 
dience composition was for African Americans, increasing almost by a factor 
of two since 1982, from 5.2 percent of the audience to 10 percent in 1992. A 
similar increase in percentage composition among Hispanic respondents was 
observed, rising from 2.8 percent to 5.3 percent in 1992. 



Gender 



Women are slightly overrepresented in the theater audience (56.4 percent 
compared to 51.3 percent of all U.S. adults), a slight decrease from 57.3 per- 
cent in 1982. Participation rates in non-musical theater have increased for 
both women and men to 14.6 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively, in 1992, 



The Theater Audience I 23 



a noticeable increase from 1982 participation levels of 12.9 percent and 10.8 
percent, respectively. 



Marital Status 

Respondents who are single or divorced attend theater at the highest rates, 
15.8 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively. Between 1982 and 1992 partici- 
pation rates increased among all categories except "separated," which declined 
significantly. The largest increase in participation was for those who are wid- 
owed, rising by 3.6 percent the current participation rate of 1 1.2 percent. The 
largest portion of the theater audience, married couples, participates at a rate 
of only 12.9 percent, below the 13.5 percent average (see Figure 4). 

With respect to frequency of attendance, similar patterns are observed. 
Divorced respondents also attend at a higher frequency of 2.8 times annually, 



FIGURE 4. Theater Participation Rates by Marital Status 



DJD 

C 

c 
o> 

*-> 

4-1 
K 

+- 1 

CD 

u 

1_ 
CD 



16.0 



14.0 



12.0 



Hi 1982 SPPA 



1985 SPPA ] 1992 SPPA 




; 



Married 



Widowed 



Divorced 



T 

Separated Never Married 



24 I American Participation in Theater 



as well as those who are widowed (2.7 times annually). Single respondents at- 
tend theater an average of 2.4 times annually, while married couples attend 
2.3 times annually. 

The composition of dramatic theater audiences closely resembles the na- 
tion with respect to marital status. Married respondents account for 56.3 per- 
cent of the theater audience compared to slightly more than the 55 percent of 
all U.S. adults. Singles represent 26.5 percent of the theater audience, while 
divorced respondents account for 1 percent. 



Residency 

The type of area in which respondents live has a major impact on theater at- 
tendance. Once an individual is a theatergoer, type of area is the most signif- 
icant determinant of participation. Residents of urban areas have the highest 
rate of attendance (15.9 percent) and the highest frequency (2.7 times annu- 
ally). They make up 38.4 percent of dramatic theater audiences, up from 31.9 
percent in 1982. 

In many cases, the type of area in which a person lives (e.g., central city, 
suburb, or rural area) is directly associated with the availability of and access 
to theatrical programming. Generally the supply of dramatic theater offerings 
is greater in urban areas than it is in suburban or rural areas, creating increased 
opportunity for residents of urban areas to attend. 

People living in suburban areas (within a Metropolitan Statistical Area or 
MSA) comprise 47 A percent of theater audiences and have a participation 
rate of 14.2 percent. Center city residents constitute a somewhat smaller por- 
tion of the theater audience, 38.4 percent, but attend at a higher rate (15.9 
percent) compared to their suburban counterparts. Only 8.5 percent of peo- 
ple living in rural areas attend non-musical theater. They make up 14.2 per- 
cent of the total audience, a decrease of over 9 percent since 1982. 



Region 

The geographical distribution of non-musical theater audiences may also 
be related to the supply of programming. Residents of the Northeast region, 
which includes cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia (each with 
a long history of theater programming) have a higher participation rate, 15.8 
percent, compared to residents of other regions. 

A relatively high participation rate in the West (15 percent) can be associ- 
ated with the nation's highest educational attainment: nearly half of all adults 



The Theater Audience I 25 



in the West have completed at least some college. Significantly higher theater 
participation by African Americans (17.7 percent) is also observed in the 
West, compared to 15.5 percent among whites. 

Participation rates in the Midwest (14.4 percent) are slightly above the na- 
tional mean of 13.5 percent. Again, participation rates for African Americans 
(17.6 percent) and other races (29.6 percent) are significantly higher than for 
whites (13.9 percent) in the Midwest. 

The South has the lowest overall theater participation rate, 10.6 percent, 
which can be associated with a lack of theater programming in rural areas. Of 
the four geographic regions, the South has the largest rural population (31.4 
percent), according to 1990 census figures. 



Presence of Children 

Three aspects of family life cycle impact theater participation: 

1 . the presence of children in the household 

2. the number of children in the household 

3. the children's ages 

Children under the age of 12 are present in only 18.6 percent of stage play 
attender households. Participation among these individuals is below average at 
10.6 percent, compared to 13.8 percent for those with no children at home. 
For stage play attenders with children, the strongest correlation to attendance 
relates to the children's ages. Generally, individuals living in households with 
children under the age of 6 have a lower rate of participation, between 7 to 10 
percent, depending on the number of children in this age group. Participation 
rates increase substantially for households with children between the ages of 6 
and 1 1 , unless more than one child under 6 is present. Surprisingly, the high- 
est participation rates are for individuals living in households with one child 
under 6 and more than one child between 6 and 1 1 (see Table 9). 

The presence of children in a household has a somewhat greater effect on 
frequency of attendance than it has on participation rates. Although individ- 
uals with one child under 6 and one child between 6 and 1 1 have a partici- 
pation rate of 12.3 percent, their frequency of attendance is only 1.8 times an- 
nually. Frequency of attendance rates for individuals with children under 6 are 
all below the mean frequency of 2.4 times annually. Annual frequency of at- 
tendance for all other theatergoers is greater than 2.4 times annually. 



26 I American Participation in Theater 



TABLE 7. Audience 


Composition by Demographic Segment (%) 




1982 


1985 


1992 


1990 


% Change 




SPPA 


SPPA 


SPPA 


Census 


1982-1992 


Gender 












Male 


42.7 


43.3 


43.6 


48.7 


2.1 


Female 


57.3 


56.7 


56.4 


51.3 


-1.6 , 


Race/Ethnicity 












White 


90.7 


89.7 


82.4 


80.3 


-9.2 


African American 


5.2 


5.6 


10.0 


12.1 


92.3 


Asian American 


N/A 


1.3 


1.6 


2.9 


23.0 


Hispanic 


2.5 


3.4 


5.3 


N/A 


112.0 


Other 


1.5 


0.0 


0.7 


3.9 


-53.3 


Age 












18-24 


15.6 


14.4 


12.7 


14.4 


-18.6 


25-34 


24.1 


24.6 


20.6 


23.3 


-14.5 


35-44 


21.5 


22.3 


22.0 


20.3 


2.3 


45-54 


15.2 


15.1 


19.0 


13.6 


25.0 


55-64 


12.9 


11.7 


12.6 


11.4 


-2.3 


65-74 


8.1 


8.1 


9.7 


9.8 


19.8 


75+ 


2.6 


3.8 


3.3 


7.9 


26.9 


Education 












Grade school 


1.8 


1.4 


1.0 


10.4 


-44.4 


Some high school 


3.8 


4.0 


2.7 


14.4 


-28.9 


High school graduate 


22.2 


19.4 


21.7 


30.0 


-2.3 


Some college 


26.9 


25.7 


24.9 


24.9 


-7.4 


College graduate 


22.6 


25.3 


24.2 


13.1 


7.1 


Graduate school 


22.7 


24.2 


25.5 


7.2 


12.3 


Income 












Under $5,000 


5.6 


5.6 


2.9 


6.2 


-48.2 


$5,000-$9,000 


6.9 


5.0 


3.8 


N/A 


-44.9 


$10,000-$ 14,999 


11.8 


10.3 


5.9 


N/A 


-50.0 


$15,000-$24,999 


24.2 


19.1 


15.7 


17.5 


-35.1 


$25,000-$49,999 


37.6 


37.2 


37.4 


33.7 


-0.5 


$50,000+ 


13.8 


22.8 


34.2 


24.5 


147.8 


Marital Status 












Married 


60.2 


58.4 


56.3 


55.0 


-6.5 


Widowed 


4.9 


5.6 


7.1 


7.1 


44.9 


Divorced 


7.6 


8.2 


10.0 


8.1 


31.6 


Separated 


2.1 


2.7 


1.7 


3.3 


-19.0 


Never married 


25.1 


25.1 


26.1 


26.5 


4.0 


Residency 












Central city 


31.9 


30.5 


38.4 




20.4 


Suburbs 


44.8 


50.2 


47.4. 




5.8 


Rural area 


23.4 


19.3 


14.2 




-39.3 



The Theater Audience I 27 



TABLE 8. Theater 


Participation Rates 


by Demographic 


Characteristics (%) 










1982 


1985 


1992 


% Change 




SPPA 


SPPA 


SPPA 


1982-1992 


Gender 










Male 


10.8 


10.7 


12.3 


13.9 


Female 


12.9 


12.4 


14.6 


13.2 


Race/Ethnicity 










White 


12.7 


12.5 


14.4 


13.4 


African American 


5.8 


6.1 


12.0 


106.9 


Asian American 


N/A 


8.8 


8.1 


-8.0 


Hispanic 


5.5 


6.4 


8.6 


56.4 


Other 


8.0 


7.8 


9.7 


21.3 


Age 










18-24 


10.7 


10.4 


13.2 


23.3 


25-34 


12.2 


11.9 


12.2 


0.0 


35-44 


15.3 


14.3 


13.9 


-9.2 


45-54 


13.4 


13.4 


17.2 


28.3 


55-64 


11.5 


10.5 


14.9 


29.6 


65-74 


9.9 


9.8 


13.3 


34.3 


75+ 


5.2 


7.2 


6.7 


28.8 


Education 










Grade school 


1.7 


1.5 


1.7 


0.0 


Some high school 


3.6 


3.9 


3.7 


2.8 


High school graduate 


7.1 


6.0 


7.8 


9.9 


Some college 


16.5 


14.8 


15.9 


-3.6 


College graduate 


25.9 


26.7 


23.2 


-10.4 


Graduate school 


36.7 


35.4 


35.4 


-3.5 


Income 










Under $5,000 


7.2 


8.1 


7.6 


5.6 


$5,000-59,000 


5.5 


4.3 


5.7 


3.6 


$10,000-$ 14,999 


8.1 


8.4 


7.0 


-13.6 


$15,000-$24,999 


10.3 


9.1 


10.9 


5.8 


$25,000-$49,999 


17.9 


14.2 


13.7 


-23.5 


$50,000+ 


33.8 


28.4 


24.2 


-28.4 


Marital Status 










Married 


11.4 


11.0 


12.9 


13.2 


Widowed 


7.6 


9.0 


11.2 


47.4 


Divorced 


14.5 


13.7 


15.4 


6.2 


Separated 


9.9 


11.0 


7.9 


-20.2 


Never married 


14.5 


14.3 


15.8 


9.0 


Residency 










Central city 


14.1 


13.1 


15.9 


12.8 


Suburbs 


13.2 


14.2 


14.2 


7.6 


Rural area 


8.5 


7.1 


8.5 


0.0 



28 I American Participation in Theater 



TABLE 9. 


Theater Participation Rates 


by Presence of Children 






1 992 Participation 
Rate (%) 


1992 % of 
Audience 


1992 Frequency 
of Attendance 


No children 




13.8 


81.4 


2.5 


One under 6 




9.9 


4.3 


1.8 


Two+ under 6 




6.9 


1.6 


1.3 


One 6-11 




10.5 


4.3 


2.5 


Two+ 6-1 1 




12.4 


2.8 


3.3 


One under 6, 


One 6-11 


12.3 


3.3 


1.8 


Two+ under 6 


, One 6-11 


9.6 


0.7 


1.9 


One under 6, 


Two+ 6-1 1 


14.0 


1.2 


2.3 


Two+ under 6 


, Two+ 6-1 1 


6.9 


0.2 


1.0 



Producing Activity, 
1 982-1 992 




In addition to changing demographic and cultural forces, theater participa- 
tion is also influenced by the amount and types of theater programming 
available to the public. At the national level, the availability of live, profes- 
sional non-musical theater programming is difficult to quantify, although two 
service organizations, Theater Communications Group (TCG) and the 
League of American Theaters and Producers (LATP), compile supply-side 
data from certain theater companies and Broadway producers. Two categories 
of supply are discussed in this section: touring and nontouring productions. 
While there are many different forces at play, the observed increase in live the- 
ater participation between 1982 and 1992 may be attributed to supply factors, 
changes in audience characteristics, or most likely a combination of the two. 
At the local level, reconciling attendance levels with the supply of theatri- 
cal programming becomes feasible, particularly in smaller communities. Such 
was the goal of a 1992 study of arts participation in 12 communities across 
the United States, commissioned by the NEA and sponsors in each area. A 
great deal was learned about the dynamic forces that shape arts participation 
in different communities. To date, however, researchers have yet to reconcile 
the number of reported attendances (by survey respondents) in a community 
with the actual number of attendances. 



TABLE 10. Supply vs. 


Attendance at 42 Theaters, 1982-1992 




1982 


1985 


1992 %chan 8 e 
1982-1992 


Total attendance 


6,408,252 


6,669,051 


6,835,247 6.66 


Number of performances 


13,304 


14,812 


13,659 2.67 


Number of productions 


762 


754 


655 -14.04 


Average length of run 


17.46 


19.64 


20.85 19.44 


Source: Theater Communications Group 







29 



30 I American Participation in Theater 



What has been learned from existing research is that the traditional eco- 
nomic principle of supply and demand has little bearing on the production 
and consumption of non-musical theater. Rather, research has shown that in- 
creases in the supply of theater can also stimulate new demand, sometimes 
leading to an upward spiraling relationship. Seattle's thriving theater commu- 
nity — with theater participation rates over twice those of other large mar- 
kets — provides an excellent example of the nontraditional marriage between 
theater and its public. 5 

A variety of factors impact the supply of live theatrical programming in 
any given area, including: 

• the availability of suitable venues. 

• the existence of theater companies, producers, and presenters — and their 
effectiveness as organizations. 

• artistic vision (i.e., selection of works to be offered) and quality. 

• competitive forces, both in terms of the arts and other leisure activities. 

• political, economic, geographical, and other characteristics of the area. 

Additional research at the local level is needed to gain important context 
on the complex relationship between theater participation and the availability 
of programs. 



Nontouring Productions 

In cooperation with Theater Communications Group, the national orga- 
nization for the professional nonprofit theater, a sample group of 42 theaters 
was established. These theaters were selected from TCG's Theater Facts, an an- 
nual survey of TCG members that analyzes data relating to attendance, pro- 
duction schedules, earned and contributed income, and expenses. The com- 
position of the sample group included only those theaters that completed 
surveys each year between 1982 and 1992. 

Aggregate attendance for the sample of theater companies increased from 
6.4 million in 1982 to 6.8 million in 1992 — an increase of 6.7 percent over 
the 10-year period. Several factors may have contributed to this gain. While 
the number of productions actually decreased among the sample theaters, the 
number of performances per production rose. In 1982, 13,304 performances 
of 760 productions were reported. By 1992 the ratio increased significantly to 
13,659 performances of just 655 productions. The most dramatic change was 



Producing Activity, 1982-1992 I 31 



observed for mainstage productions, for which the number of performances 
per production increased from 28.6 in 1982 to 42.2 in 1992. 

Thus, while the number of performances increased just 2.7 percent be- 
tween 1982 and 1992, attendance rose by 6.7 percent, suggesting an overall 
increase in "percentage capacity filled" by the theaters, assuming capacity (i.e., 
seat count/venue size) remained constant. 

The supply of theater programming also increased in several other areas. 
Children's programming increased by nearly 22 percent over the 1 0-year pe- 
riod, while special productions increased by over 45 percent. Only booked-in 
events experienced a decline, falling to one-third of the level of 10 years ago. 

The League of American Theaters and Producers, Inc., the national trade 
association for Broadway theater producers and presenters, tracks producing 
activity and attendance figures for both Broadway and touring commercial 
shows. 6 Unlike nonprofit professional theater, overall attendance for com- 
mercial theater declined by 2.7 million between 1982 and 1992, which many 
attribute to a decrease in the number of new shows. From 1982 to 1992, the 
number of new plays and play revivals on Broadway decreased from 29 to 19. 

Touring Productions 

Based on the TCG sample group of 42 theaters, the number of touring 
productions by nonprofit professional theaters declined sharply over the last 
10 years from 66 productions at 28 theaters in 1982 to only 26 productions 
at 14 theaters in 1992. The economics of touring changed dramatically dur- 
ing this period, with longer tours needed to amortize production costs. In 
1982, each touring production ran for 33 performances, rising to 44 perfor- 
mances per production in 1992, an increase of one-third. 

The availability of commercial touring plays varies considerably from year 
to year and is dependent to a large extent on production activity on Broad- 
way. In the 1982-83 season, a total of 23 productions toured an average of 
10.6 weeks per production, dropping to 10 non-musical productions at an av- 
erage of 21.4 weeks on tour for 1992-93. 

Prior to the mid-1980s only cities with established theater communities 
could sustain touring commercial theater. During the economic expansion of 
the mid-1980s, new or renovated performing arts facilities opened across the 
United States in cities such as Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Costa Mesa, Cleve- 
land, and St. Paul, increasing the length of commercial theater tours, and cre- 
ating new availability of commercial non-musical theater in many areas. 



32 I American Participation in Theater 



Ticket Prices 

Ticket prices are another factor influencing theater participation, as well 
as the willingness of audiences to pay them. Between 1982 and 1992 ticket 
prices increased substantially, generally keeping up with or exceeding the rate 
of inflation. According to data from the sample group provided by TCG, top 
ticket prices more than doubled in ten years, increasing from a high of $18.00 
in 1982 to $42.00 in 1992. Commercial theater ticket prices also rose sharply 
from a high of $30.00 in 1982 to $50.00 in 1992 and continue to rise. 

As ticket prices rise, nonprofit theaters are increasingly pressured to ac- 
commodate price-sensitive audiences. Most theaters offer discount programs 
for seniors, students, and persons with physical disabilities. Several nonprofit 
theaters designate one or more performances of each production as "pay what 
you can" nights. A number of cities also assist theaters in increasing earned in- 
come by brokering tickets through a half-price ticket booth, in some cases 
under the auspices of a local arts agency. The most notable is the TKTS booth 
in New York City's Times Square, which provides a limited number of half- 
price tickets to certain Broadway and off-Broadway productions. 



Artistic Focus 




Since the benchmark 1982 SPPA, the artistic focus of the theater field has 
changed dramatically, and the art form itself continues to evolve. The pro- 
liferation of culturally and ethnically specific work is most remarkable among 
these changes, as well as the evolution of performance art from the perspec- 
tives of both the artists and the public. Moreover, there has been a resurgence 
of traditional theatrical art forms, such as storytelling and monologue. As the 
nature of theater changes, so do audiences. The question is, which is chang- 
ing faster, the audience or the art form? 



Culturally Specific Work 

Since the early 1980s many politicians, flinders, artists, managers, and 
board members have grown increasingly sensitive to multicultural issues, en- 
couraging theaters to redefine their constituencies and respond to the cultural 
diversification in the communities they serve. A range of new, culturally and 
ethnically specific work came into prominence, both in regional theaters 
throughout the country as well as on Broadway. While culturally and ethni- 
cally specific work has always been produced by theater companies serving 
particular communities (e.g., Jomandi Productions in Atlanta, El Teatro 
Campesino in the Bay Area, Pan Asian Repertory in New York, and Penum- 
bra Theater in Minneapolis), it was not until large mainstream companies like 
Yale Repertory Theater began producing works like August Wilson's Ma 
Rainey (1984) that culturally specific work began attracting large, nontradi- 
tional audiences. Since that time a body of new work has emerged dealing 
with gay and lesbian issues, feminist themes, and other culturally specific 
work. Among the most successful of these is Tony Kushner's Angels in Amer- 
ica, which toured extensively following its Broadway run, to wide acclaim. 



Evolution of Performance Art 

The growing supply and popularity of performance art and solo perfor- 
mance has undoubtedly had a positive impact on theater participation, 



33 



34 I American Participation in Theater 



particularly among young audiences. It was such work in the early 1980s bv 
monologists Spalding Gray and Eric Bogosian that helped introduce this art 
form to a wider audience. 

Solo performance began reaching a much broader audience when perfor- 
mances moved out of alternative spaces to more traditional venues. People no 
longer had to be part of a downtown club scene to be aware of such work: tra- 
ditional theatergoers were increasingly exposed to performance art. As aware- 
ness grew, so did the audience. The controversy associated with this art form 
in the recent past clearly raised public awareness, although the audience re- 
mains small. 



Marketing Programs 




Over the past ten years commercial and nonprofit theater producers have 
implemented customer-centered, research-based marketing strategies in 
targeting audiences for non-musical stage plays. Through the informed selec- 
tion of target markets, experimentation with ticket packaging alternatives, 
telemarketing efforts, and production sharing, the theater field has improved 
its marketing effectiveness. While other types of performing arts producers 
and presenters (e.g., opera, classical music, dance) have made similar strides in 
the area of marketing, the theater field has seen the largest overall increase in 
participation. 

With advanced degrees in arts, public, and business administration, man- 
agers entering the theater field bring a higher level of technical proficiency to 
their jobs. Over the past decade marketing professionals have adopted more 
disciplined approaches to promotion, particularly in the areas of direct mar- 
keting, packaging, and customer segmentation. Now theaters routinely estab- 
lish strategic marketing plans targeting specific audiences. Many offer flexible 
ticket packages to attract and retain series buyers, as traditional subscription 
offers become less attractive. 

Against the backdrop of declining leisure time and increased leisure 
choices both inside and outside the home, theaters are spending more time 
and money on marketing efforts for virtually the same return they had in the 
early 1980s. Audience research is one area of growing import. Research results 
provide theaters with an enhanced understanding of their audience's attitudes, 
preferences, satisfaction levels, and buying habits. For example, one theater 
company learned that their audiences look for three primary attributes in con- 
sidering whether or not to attend: 

■ a certain level of quality 

■ relevancy; some personal connection to the theme or subject matter of the 
play (particularly the case for culturally and ethnically specific audiences) 

■ entertainment value, which is defined differently for each person (some 
look for humor, while others seek education) 

Under pressure to increase ticket sales, target marketing efforts became 
more sophisticated during the 1980s, including both direct mail and tele- 



35 



36 I American Participation in Theater 



marketing. Nonprofit professional theaters now routinely use telemarketing to 
support subscription renewal and acquisition campaigns. Direct mail efforts, 
as well, have become more sophisticated, with more theaters using so-called 
"microtargeting" or "precision-marketing" techniques based on geodemo- 
graphic market segmentation schemes which permit targeting at the ZIP+4 
level of geography (10-15 households). 

In the early 1980s theaters generally offered one or possibly two different 
subscription packages, often using only one letter or brochure. Over the in- 
tervening years creative approaches have become far more sophisticated. Hart- 
ford Stage, for example, offered four different subscription packages in 1994, 
using nine different introductory letters depending on the target segment. 
The packages ranged from a traditional full-season subscription to smaller se- 
ries packages with specific price options. 

One packaging option that has been widely adopted by theaters is the 
"flex pass," which allows the selection of a number of plays in the season with- 
out committing to specific performance dates. People's Light & Theater Com- 
pany of Malvern, Pennsylvania, offers six-, eight-, and ten-pass packages. Pa- 
trons can buy two types of coupons, one redeemable for performances 
Tuesday through Thursday and another for performances any day of the week. 
Coupons may be redeemed in any combination, all at one performance or 
throughout the season. 

"Sampler" packages (series tickets to programs offered by several different 
arts organizations) are increasingly used by theaters to attract new audiences 
and to respond to the "cultural grazing" phenomenon among the more fickle 
audience segments. Such a package might combine theater tickets with ballet, 
opera, and a six-month membership to a museum. Research at the local level 
points to declining audience loyalty and an increased desire among less fre- 
quent arts attenders to interact with a single source of information about arts 
programs. 

Searching for low-cost alternatives to paid advertising and expensive 
brochures, many nonprofit theaters have turned to grass-roots marketing. For 
example, to increase word-of-mouth promotion for its shows, the Guthrie 
Theater in Minneapolis established a promotion inviting hairdressers to pre- 
view performances. 



Future Participation in 
Theater 




W r ill public participation in non-musical theater continue to grow? Will 
the notion of "traditional" theater audiences become obsolete? Ten 
years from now the field will have endured another decade of change. New 
theaters will open and others will fold; playwrights, directors, and actors will 
speak out in new ways; the funding climate will inevitably change; and new 
communications technology will create possibilities for both theaters and au- 
diences. 

How will the theater make itself relevant to an increasingly diverse public? 
Continued development of culturally and ethnically specific work as well as 
an increased focus on arts in education are long-term responses that bode well 
for the field. One of the most potent findings from ten years of arts partici- 
pation research is that socialization into the arts as a child is critical to future 
participation as an adult. Thus a successful long-term audience development 
strategy for the theater field necessarily includes expanded performance op- 
portunities for children and their families through outreach, school perfor- 
mances, and other programs. 

From a marketing perspective, the greatest challenges to managers relate 
to inducing first-time attendance, creating marketing and programmatic 
"points of entry," and targeting promotional efforts to a variety of audience 
segments with different interest levels and lifestyles. Adoption of improved 
marketing techniques — some requiring extensive technical knowledge — sug- 
gests a skills development challenge for individual managers and the field in 
general (including those who market touring commercial productions), as 
well as a commitment to learning about theater audiences through research. 

Will the trend toward more performances of fewer productions continue? 
Much depends on the resources made available to theaters, playwrights, and 
performers to develop new work. Most likely the rising costs of producing and 
touring professional theater, coupled with changes in the funding mix for 
nonprofit theaters, will create even more pressure on earned income. How- 
ever, it is the developmental component of theater — free of commercial ex- 
pectations — that ultimately creates renewal. Audiences will continue to 
change and grow if new works (and old works infused with new relevancy) 



37 



38 I American Participation in Theater 



bring the lives of more Americans closer to the theater. Responsibility for cre- 
ating new plays rests not only with the nonprofit theater but also with com- 
mercial producers, the funding community, and ultimately the audience itself 



Appendix A 

1 992 Survey of Public Participation 
in the Arts 



INTRODUCTION - Now I have some questions about your leisure activities. The Bureau of the 
Census is collecting this information for the National Endowment for the Arts. The survey is 
authorized by Title 20, United States Code, section 954 and Title 13, United States Code, section 
8. Your participation in this interview is voluntary and there are no penalties for not answering 
some or all of the questions. (If PERSONAL INTERVIEW, hand respondent the Privacy Act Statement, 
SPPA-13.) 



PGM 3 



2. 



The following questions are about YOUR 
activities during the LAST 12 months — 

between 1,19 , and 

19 . 



With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances, did YOU go to a live 
jazz performance during the LAST 12 
MONTHS? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances,) Did you go to a live 
classical music performance such as 
symphony, chamber, or choral music 
during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances,) Did you go to a live 
opera during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances,) Did you go to a live 
musical stage play or an operetta during 
the LAST 12 MONTHS? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



7. 



9. 



(With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances,) Did you go to a live 
performance of a non-musical stage play 
during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 
oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances,) Did you go to a live 
ballet performance during the LAST 12 
MONTHS? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(With the exception of elementary or high 
school performances,) Did you go to a live 
dance performance other than ballet, such 
as modern, folk, or tap during the LAST 12 
MONTHS? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
visit an ART museum or gallery? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



(During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
visit an ART fair or festival, or a CRAFT fair 
or festival? 

oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



39 



40 I American Participation in Theater 



10. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
visit an historic park or monument, or 
tour buildings, or neighborhoods for their 
historic or design value? 



oDNo 

Yes - About how many times did you do 
this during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



1 1. With the exception of books required for 
work or school, did you read any books 
during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



>DNo 

Yes - About how many books did you 

read during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of books 



12. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
read any - 

Read answer categories 



a. Plays? 



I 021 I 1DN0 zDYes 



b. Poetry? 



I 022 I iDNo sDYes 



c. Novels or short stories? I 023 I iDNo 2DYes 



13. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to - 



a. A reading of poetry, 
either live or recorded? 



_££jj iDNo zDYes 



b. A reading of novels or 
books either live or 
recorded? 



_2£LJ iDNo aDYes 



14a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
watch a jazz performance on television or 
a video (VCR) tape? 

026 I iDNo - Skip to item 14c 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR, or both? 

2DTV 
aDVCR 
4 □ Both 



b. About how many times did you do this in 
the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



Number of times 



c. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to jazz on radio? 



™J iDNo 
zDYes 



d. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to jazz records, tapes, or compact 
discs? 



_£!U iDNo 
2D Yes 



Page 2 



15a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
watch a classical music performance on 
television or a video (VCR) tape? 

030 1 1 DNo - Skip to item 15c 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR. or both? 

2DTV 
3DVCR 
4 □ Both 

b. About how many times did you do this (in 
the LAST 12 MONTHS)? 



Number of times 



c. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to classical music on radio? 



iDNo 
2D Yes 



d. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS.) Did you 
listen to classical music records, tapes or 
compact discs? 



_2?2J 1DN0 
2D Yes 



16a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS.) Did you 
watch an opera on television or a video 
(VCR) tape? 



LI 1DN0 - Skip to item 16c 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR, or both? 

2DTV 
3DVCR 
4 D Both 

b. About how many times did you do this (in 
the LAST 12 MONTHS)? 



Number of times 



c. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to opera music on radio? 



1DN0 
2DYes 



d. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to opera music records, tapes, or 
compact discs? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



17a. With the exception of movies, did you 

watch a musical stage play or an operetta 
on television or a video (VCR) tape during 
the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



i D No - Skip to item 1 7c 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR, or both? 

2DTV 
3DVCR 
4 D Both 



b. About how many times did you do this (in 
the LAST 12 MONTHS)? 



Number of times 



(During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to a musical stage play or an operetta 
on radio? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



d. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
listen to a musical stage play or an operetta 
on records, tapes, or compact discs? 



J*Ll 1DN0 
2D Yes 



FORM SPPA-2 14 9 921 



1992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts I 41 



18a. With the exception of movies, situation 
comedies, or TV series, did you watch a 
non-musical stage play on television or a video 
(VCR) tape during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 

JED 1 DNo - Skip to item 18c 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR, or both? 

aDTV 
aDVCR 
4 □ Both 



b. About how many times did you do this (in the 
LAST 12 MONTHS)? 



Number of times 



c. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you listen 
to a radio performance of a non-musical stage 
play? 



iDNo 
2D Yes 



19a. With the exception of music videos, did you 
watch on television or a video (VCR) tape 
dance such as ballet, modern, folk, or tap 
during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



1 □ No - Skip to item 20a 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR, or both? 

2DTV 
3DVCR 
4 □ Both 



b. About how many times did you do this (in 
the LAST 12 MONTHS)? 



Number of times 



22a. The following questions are about your 
participation in other leisure activities. 

Approximately how many hours of television 
do you watch on an average day? 



Number of hours 



b. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did YOU go 
out to the movies? 



iDNo 
2D Yes 



c. With the exception of youth sports, did you 
go to any amateur or professional sports 
events during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



.2!U iDNo 
2D Yes 



d. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you go to 
an amusement or theme park, a carnival, or 
a similar place of entertainment? 



jJEJ iDNo 
20Yes 



e. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you jog, 
lift weights, walk, or participate in any other 
exercise program? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



20a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you watch 
a program about artists, art works, or art 
museums on television or a video (VCR) tape? 



°1ZJ 1 □ No - Skip to item 21a 

Yes - Was that on TV, VCR, or both? 

2DTV 
aD VCR 
4 D Both 



b. About how many times did you do this (in 
the LAST 12 MONTHS)? 



Number of times 



21a. 



I'm going to read a list of events that some 
people like to attend. If you could go to any of 
these events as often as you wanted, which 
ones would you go to MORE OFTEN than you 
do now? I'll read the list. Go to - 

Mark (X) all that apply. 

iCJazz music performances 
2DCIassical music performances 
3D Operas 

4 D Musical plays or operettas 

5 D Non-musical plays 

6 D Ballet performances 

7 D Dance performances other than ballet 
sD Art museums or galleries 

9 D None of these - Skip to item 22a 



If only one is chosen, skip to item 22a. 
If more than one is chosen, ask - 

b. Which of these would you like to do most? 



Category number 



ooDNo one thing most 



f. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you 
participate in any sports activity, such as 
Softball, basketball, golf, bowling, skiing, or 
tennis? 

1DN0 
2D Yes 



g. Did you participate in any outdoor activities, 
such as camping, hiking, or canoeing during 
the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



h. Did you do volunteer or charity work during 
the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



i. Did you make repairs or improvements on 
your own home during the LAST 12 
MONTHS? 



063 [ 



iDNo 
2D Yes 



Did you work with indoor plants or do any 
gardening for pleasure during the LAST 12 
MONTHS? 

1DN0 
2D Yes 



23a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you work 
with pottery, ceramics, jewelry, or do any 
leatherwork or metalwork? 



065 I 1 DNo - Skip to item 24a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you publicly display any of your works? 



I 1DN0 
2D Yes 



FORM SPPA-2 (4-9-92) 



Page 3 



42 I American Participation in Theater 



24a 



(During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you do 
any weaving, crocheting, quilting, 
needlepoint, or sewing? 

1 D No - Skip to item 25a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you publicly display any of your works? 



iDNo 
zDYes 



25a 



(During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you 
make photographs, movies, or video tapes 
as an artistic activity? 

1 □ No - Skip to item 26a 
aDYes 



b. Did you publicly display any of your works? 



DNo 
>DYes 



26a 



(During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you do 
any painting, drawing, sculpture, or 
printmaking activities? 

i □ No - Skip to item 27a 

2D Yes 



b. Did you publicly display any of your works? 



iDNo 
2 D Yes 



27a. With the exception of work or school, did you 
do any creative writing such as stories, poems, 
or plays during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



i □ No - Skip to item 28a 
2D Yes 



b. Were any of your writings published? 



1DN0 

2CDYes 



28a. Did you write or compose any music during 
the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



1 □ No - Skip to item 29a 
2D Yes 



b. Was your musical composition played in a 
public performance or rehearsed for a public 
performance? 



iDNo 
2D Yes 



29a. Do you own any original pieces of art, such 
as paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints, or 
lithographs? 



077 I 1 □ No - Skip to item 30a 
2DYes 



b. Did you purchase or acquire any of these 
pieces during the LAST 12 MONTHS? 



iDNo 
2D Yes 



30a. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you 
perform or rehearse any jazz music? 



079 I 1 D No - Skip to item 31a 
2D Yes 

Page 4 



30b. Did you play any jazz in a public performance 
or rehearse for a public performance? 



°!°J 1DN0 
2DYes 



31a. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you play 
any classical music? 



HO 1 D No - Skip to item 32a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you play classical music in a public 
performance or rehearse for a public 
performance? 



iDNo 

2D Yes 



32a. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you sing any 
music from an opera? 



°ED 1 D No -Skip to item 33a 
2DYes 



b. Did you sing in a public opera performance 
or rehearse for a public performance? 



iDNo 
2DYes 



33a. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you sing 
music from a musical play or operetta? 

065 I 1 D No - Skip to item 33c 
2D Yes 

b. Did you sing in a public performance of a 
musical play or operetta or rehearse for a 
public performance? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



c. During the LAST 12 MONTHS, did you sing in 
a public performance with a chorale, choir, 
or glee club or other type of vocal group, or 
rehearse for a public performance? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



34. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you act in a 
public performance of a non-musical play or 
rehearse for a public performance? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



35a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you dance 
any ballet? 



°E] i D No -Skip to item 36a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you dance ballet in a public performance 
or rehearse for a public performance? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



36a. (During the LAST 12 MONTHS,) Did you do any 
dancing other than ballet such as modern, folk, 
or tap? 



HD 1 D No -Skip to item 37a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you dance modern, folk, or tap in a 
public performance? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



FORM SPPA-2 u-9-921 



1992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts I 43 



37a. I'm going to read a list of some types of 
music. As I read the list, tell me which of 
these types of music you like to listen to? 

Mark (X) all that apply. 



Z Classical/Chamber music 

2D Opera 

3D Operetta/Broadway musicals/Show tunes 

a □ Jazz 

5DReggae (Reg gay ) 

eZRap music 

tDSouI 

eD Blues/Rhythm and blues 

9D Latin/Spanish/Salsa 
ioDBig band 

Z Parade/Marching band 
1 2 □ Country-western 

: ZBIuegrass 
nDRock 

isDThe music of a particular Ethnic/ 
National tradition 

eZContemporary folk music 
17 D Mood/Easy listening 
isDNew age music 

sZChoral/Gtee club 

20 D Hymns/Gospel 

21 DAN 

22 □ None/Don't like to listen to music - Skip to item 38a 



b. If only one category is marked in 37a, enter code in 
37b without asking. Which of these do you like 
best? 



Category number 
ooD No one type best 



38a. Have you EVER taken lessons or classes in 
music - either voice training or playing an 
instrument? 

100 I i □ No - Skip to item 39a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you take these lessons when you were 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 



_i£LJ i □ Less than 1 2 years old 
2 □ 1 2-1 7 years old 
3D 18-24 years old 
4 D 25 or older 



CHECK 
ITEM A 



Refer to item 38b 

Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 38b? 

D No - Skip to Check Item B 
DYes- Ask item 38c 



38c. Were these lessons or classes offered by the 
elementary or high school you were 
attending or did you take these lessons 
elsewhere? 



iD Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEM B 



38d.Did you take any of these lessons or 
classes in the past year? 

j°D 1DN0 

2 DYes 



39a. (Have you EVER taken lessons or 

classes) in visual arts such as sculpture, 
painting, print making, photography, or 
film making? 



t D No - c .'wp to item 40a 
2DYes 



b. Did you take these lessons when you were 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 



ZLess than 12 years old 
2 D 1 2-1 7 years old 
3D 18-24 years old 
4D25 or older 



CHECK 
ITEMC 



Refer to item 39b 

Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 39b 7 

D No - Skip to Check Item D 
D Yes - Ask item 39c 



39c. Were these lessons or classes offered by the 
elementary or high school you were 
attending or did you take these lessons 
elsewhere? 



1 D Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEMD 



Refer to item 39b 

If box 4 is marked in item 39b, ASK item 39d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 39b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

D No - Skip to item 40a 
D Yes - Ask item 39d 



39d.Did you take any of these lessons or classes 
in the past year? 



]°D 1DN0 

2 DYes 



40a. (Have you EVER taken lessons or classes) in 
acting or theater? 



1 D No - Skip to item 4 1a 
2 DYes 



b. Did you take these lessons when you were 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 



ZU 1 D Less than 1 2 years old 
;;;- 2 D 1 2-1 7 years old 
3D 18-24 years old 
4 D 25 or older 



Refer to item 38b 

If box 4 is marked in item 38b, ASK item 38d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 38b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

D No - Skip to item 39a 
DYes- Ask item 38d 



CHECK 
HEME 



Refer to item 40b 
Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 40b? 
DNo - Skip to Check Item F 
DYes - Ask item 40c 



40c. Were these lessons or classes offered by the 
elementary or high school you were 
attending or did you take these lessons 
elsewhere? 



1D Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



FORM SPPA-2 14-9-92) 



Page 5 



44 I American Participation in Theater 



CHECK 
ITEMF 



Refer to item 40b 

If box 4 is marked in item 40b, ASK item 40d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 40b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

D No - Skip to item 41a 
DYes- Ask item 40d 



40d.Did you take any of these lessons or classes 
in the past year? 



iDNo 
aDYes 



41 a. (Have you EVER taken lessons or classes) in 
ballet? 



i □ No - Skip to item 42a 
2 DYes 



b. Did you take these lessons when you were 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 



_i_' U Less than 12 years old 
2 D 1 2-1 7 years old 
sD 18-24 years old 
4D25 or older 



CHECK 
ITEMG 



Refer to item 41b 
Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 41b? 
□ No - Skip to Check Item H 
DYes - Ask item 41c 



41c. Were these lessons or classes offered by the 
elementary or high school you were 
attending or did you take these lessons 
elsewhere? 



iD Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEM H 



Refer to item 41b 

If box 4 is marked in item 41b, ASK item 41d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 41b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

□ No - Skip to item 42a 
DYes- Ask item 41 d 



41 d. Did you take any of these lessons or classes 
in the past year? 



iDNo 

2 DYes 



42a. (Have you EVER taken lessons or classes) in 
dance, other than ballet such as modern, folk 
or tap? 



1 D No - Skip to item 43a 
2 DYes 



Did you take these lessons when you were - 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 

iDLess than 12 years old 
2D 12-1 7 years old 
3D 18-24 years old 
4D25 or older 



CHECK 
ITEM I 



Page 6 



Refer to item 42b 

Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 42b? 

DNo - Skip to Check Item J 
DYes- Ask item 42c 



42c. Were these lessons or classes offered by the 
elementary or high school you were 
attending or did you take these lessons 
elsewhere? 



1D Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEM J 



Refer to item 42b 

If box 4 is marked in item 42b, ASK item 42d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 42b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

D No - Skip to item 43a 
DYes - Ask item 42d 



42d.Did you take any of these lessons or classes 
in the past year? 



liLI 1DN0 

2 DYes 



43a. Have you EVER taken lessons or classes in 
creative writing? 



Z1°J 1 D No - Skip to item 44a 
2 DYes 



b. Did you take these lessons when you were 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 



1 D Less than 1 2 years old 
2D 12-1 7 years old 
3D 18-24 years old 
-D25 or older 



CHECK 
ITEM K 



Refer to item 43b 
Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 43b? 
D No - Skip to Check Item L 
D Yes - Ask item 43c 



43c. Were these lessons or classes offered by the 
elementary or high school you were 
attending or did you take these lessons 
elsewhere? 



1D Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEM L 



Refer to item 43b 

If box 4 is marked in item 43b, ASK item 43d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 43b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

D No - Skip to item 44a 
DYes- Ask item 43d 



43d. Did you take any of these lessons or classes 
in the past year? 



1DN0 
2DYes 



44a. (Have you EVER taken a class) in art 
appreciation or art history? 



1 D No - Skip to item 45a 
2 DYes 



b. Did you take this class when you were - 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 



125 



iDLess than 12 years old 
2D 12-1 7 years old 
3D 18-24 years old 
4 D 25 or older 



FORM SPPA 2 (4-9-921 



1992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts I 45 



CHECK 
ITEM M 



Refer to item 44b 

Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 44b? 

□ No - Skip to Check Item N 

□ Yes - Ask item 44c 



44c. Was this class offered by the elementary or 
high school you were attending or did you 
take this class elsewhere? 



45c. Was this class offered by the elementary or 
high school you were attending or did you 
take this class elsewhere? 

130 I iD Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEM P 



iQ Elementary/high school 
2D Elsewhere 
3D Both 



CHECK 
ITEM N 



Refer to item 44b 

If box 4 is marked in item 44b, ASK item 44d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 44b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

□ No - Skip to item 45a 

□ Yes - Ask item 446 



44d Did you take any of these lessons or classes 
in the past year? 



1DN0 
2D Yes 



45a. (Have you EVER taken a class) in music 
appreciation? 



J£L] 1 □ No - Skip to item 46a 
2D Yes 



b. Did you take this class when you were • 

Read categories. (Do not read category 4 if 
respondent is under 25 years old.) 
Mark (X) all that apply. 

129 I 1 □ Less than 1 2 years old 
2 □ 1 2-1 7 years old 

aD 18-24 years old 
4U25 or older 



Refer to item 45b 

If box 4 is marked in item 45b, ASK item 45d. 

If not - Is box 2 or 3 marked in item 45b AND 
the respondent is under 25 years old? 

D No - Skip to item 46a 
□'Yes - Ask item 45d 



45d.Did you take this class in the past year? 



iDNo 

2 0Yes 



46a. What is the highest grade (or year) of regular 
school your FATHER completed? 



132 1 01 D7th grade or less 
02 □ 8th grade 
03d9th— 1 1th grades 
(M □ 12th grade 

05 □College (did not complete) 
06 □Completed college (4+ years) 
o?nPost graduate degree (M.A., Ph.D., M.D., J.D., etc.) 
08 □ Don't know 



b. What is the highest grade (or year) of regular 
school your MOTHER completed? 



133 1 01 □ 7th grade or less 
02 □ 8th grade 
03D9th-11th grades 

04 □ 12th grade 

05 □ College (did not complete) 

06 □Completed college (4+ years) 

07DPost graduate degree (M.A., Ph.D., M.D., J.D., etc.) 

08 □ Don't know 



CHECK 
ITEMO 



Refer to item 45b 

Is box 1 or 2 marked in item 45b? 

□ No - Skip to Check Item P 

□ Yes - Ask item 45c 



CHECK 
ITEM Q 



Is this the LAST household member to be 
interviewed? 

□ No - Go back to the NCS- 1 and interview the 

next eligible NCS household member 

□ Yes - END INTERVIEW 




FORM SPPA-2 (2-9-921 



Page 7 



Notes 



1 . Summary Report: 12 Local Surveys of Public Participation in the Arts, Research Di- 
vision Report #26, National Endowment for the Arts, 1993. 

2. A change in the participation rate of 1.6 percentage points is not statistically sig- 
nificant at the 95% level of confidence. In other words, it is possible that this 
change is due to random error associated with the sampling procedure employed 
by the Census Bureau. 

3. In 1995 the NEA commissioned a study of first-time opera attenders at ten dif- 
ferent opera companies. 

4. John Robinson, Survey of Public Participation in the Arts: 1985, National En- 
dowment for the Arts, 1987. 

5. Further discussion of this idea may be found in Summary Report: 12 Local Sur- 
veys of Public Participation in the Arts, Research Division Report #26, National 
Endowment for the Arts, 1993. 

6. LATP classifies production as new plays, play revivals, new musicals, musical re- 
vivals, special attractions, and return shows. 



46 



About the Author 



A MS Planning & Research Corp. is a management consulting practice in- 
volved in the planning and development of arts projects and programs 
of all types. With offices in Connecticut, Michigan, and California, the firm 
provides services in the areas of cultural facility development, organizational 
design and development, strategic planning, program evaluation, and market 
research. 

AMS Planning & Research Corp. 
2150 Post Road, 2nd Floor 
Fairfield, CT 06430 
(203) 256-1616 



47 



Other Reports on Arts Participation 



The most recent nationwide survey of arts participation was conducted in 
1992. The following publications report on various aspects of the 1992 
Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. 

Public Participation in the Arts: 1982 and 1992, Research Division Note #50. 
A 10-page summary comparing the results of the 1982 and 1992 surveys. 

Arts Participation in America: 1982—1992, Research Division Report #27. A 
more detailed discussion (100 pp) of the 1982 and 1992 surveys. 

Research Division Notes #51, #52, and #55 provide brief summaries of data 
on demographic information for the live broadcast and recorded media audi- 
ences and on regional and metropolitan audiences. Research Division Notes 
and Report #27 are available from The Research Division, National Endow- 
ment for the Arts, 1 100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20506. 

The Research Division of the Arts Endowment has been studying trends in 
the size and characteristics of arts audiences for two decades. A complete de- 
scription of the Division's work in this area through the most recent nation- 
wide study, Survey of Public Participation in the arts, 1992, is contained in A 
Practical Guide to Arts Participation Research, Research Division Report #30. 
This report is available through the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies, 
927 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 371-2830. 

The Division has also funded fifteen monographs that analyzed various as- 
pects of the 1992 and 1982 surveys. Each of these documents, which are listed 
below, are being deposited in the Educational Research Information Center 
(ERIC) system to facilitate distribution. 

Age Factors in Arts Participation, Richard A. Peterson and Darren E. Sherkat 

American Dance 1992: Who's Watching? Who's Dancing? Jack Lemon/Jack 
Faucett Associates 

American Participation in Opera and Musical Theater— 1992, Joni Maya 
Cherbo and Monnie Peters 



48 



Other Reports on Arts Participation I 49 

American Participation in Theater, Chris Shrum/AMS Planning and Research 

Americans' Personal Participation in the Arts, Monnie Peters and Joni Maya 
Cherbo 

Arts Participation and Race I Ethnicity, Jeffrey Love and Bramble C. Klipple 

Arts Participation by the Baby Boomers, Judith Huggins Balfe and Rolf Meyer- 
sohn 

Cross-Over Patterns in Arts Participation, Richard J. Orend and Carol Keegan 

Education and Arts Participation: A Study of Arts Socialization and Current Arts- 
Related Activities, Richard J. Orend and Carol Keegan 

The Effects of Education and Arts Education on Adult Participation in the Arts,: 
An Analysis of the 1992 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, Louis 
Bergonzi and Julia Smith 

Hold the Funeral March: The State of Classical Music Appreciation in the U.S., 
Nicholas Zill 

Jazz in America: Who's Listening? Scott DeVeaux 

Patterns of Multiple Arts Participation, Jeffrey Love 

Reading in the 1990s: Turning a Page or Closing the Books? Nicholas Zill 

Tuning In and Turning On: Public Participation in the Arts via Media in the 
United States, Charles M. Gray 



Seven of these have been condensed and published by Seven Locks Press as the 
following: 

Research Division Report #31: Jazz in America: Who's Listening? Scott 
DeVeaux 

Research Division Report #32: American Participation in Opera and Musical 
Theater, 1992, Joni Maya Cherbo and Monnie Peters 



50 I American Participation in Theater 



Research Division Report #33: Turning On and Tuning In: Media Participa- 
tion in the Arts, Charles M. Gray 

Research Division Report #34: Age and Arts Participation with a Focus on the 
Baby Boom Cohort, Richard A. Peterson, Darren E. Sherkat, Judith Hug- 
gins Balfe, and Rolf Meyersohn 

Research Division Report #35: American Participation in Theater, AMS Plan- 
ning & Research Corp. 

Research Division Report #36: Effects of Arts Education on Participation in the 
Arts, Louis Bergonzi and Julia Smith 



«f 




NATIONAL 
ENDOWMENT 
FOR THE ARTS 



Seven Locks Press 
Santa Ana, California 



ISBN D-^EH7bS-L4h- 



9 I 780929 II 765464 



51 



09. c